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Expanding Tilt-Up to the Middle East

For nearly a decade, members of the design and construction community have been exploring opportunities to expand their business into the Middle East. While many have pursued work in locations such as Dubai, one innovative Tilt-Up contractor, SiteCast Construction Corp. of Ottawa, Canada, chose to look at another location – Amman, Jordan. Home to more than two million residents, Amman is the capital city of Jordan and a tremendous center for culture, politics and commerce.

While attending an industry event, Steve Kaminski, President of SiteCast Construction Corp., spoke with someone who was pursuing work in the Middle East. Naturally, he gained information about the experience and started to develop an action plan for how SiteCast could seek out opportunities. A chance encounter led to meeting an individual who was performing work in Jordan. After learning more about the country, culture and strong relationship between Canada and Jordan, Kaminski decided this would be a good opportunity for his firm and embarked on a test project with the Jordanian military.

One of SiteCast’s first actions was to set up an international construction division to tackle the Middle East projects. “We learned that nearly everything in the city is made of load-bearing masonry,” said Shawn Hickey, Vice President of Construction at SiteCast. “Site-cast Tilt-Up seemed a natural fit for this geographic area and would provide the durability and low maintenance that owners desired.”

However, embarking on a Tilt-Up project in Amman would certainly be a challenge since this would be the first Tilt-Up project in the country. To demonstrate all that Tilt-Up has to offer, SiteCast elected to do a prototype housing project for the military. The 1,765-square-foot structure was built in the Military Medical City in Amman as part of the military’s plans to complete housing requirements for their personnel.

“The entire structure was built out of Tilt-Up panels, including the roof,” said Hickey. “We used 22 panels on the project and were able to demonstrate speed of construction, security and durability that are the hallmarks of Tilt- Up construction. We used reinforced insulated concrete panels that were load-bearing structural components for the exterior, interior and roof panels of the structure.”

For this project, SiteCast used J.W. Lindsay Enterprises Limited of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia for the engineering. “One key to a successful project is having technical assistance available from the design office at all times while work is progressing on site,” said Laurence Smith, P. Eng. and Vice President, Engineering at J.W. Lindsay. “With a seven-hour time difference between our office and the site, it was critical to be available by cell phone or e-mail at anytime in the event that a problem arose. As with any project whether near or far, proper planning is the essential ingredient for success. We greatly enjoyed the opportunity to work with SiteCast and cross-train with them.”

While the project was a tremendous success, SiteCast did encounter several challenges during construction. Since Tilt-Up was entirely new to the area, all employees had to be trained on the method – everything from finishing and laser leveling to panel erection and bracing. Local laborers and materials were used and SiteCast brought a superintendent to the region to assist with training. A crane was available for the project, but all lifting hardware had to be shipped. A large shipping container of materials was sent to Jordan and took nearly four weeks to arrive.

Unlike North America, there is no apparent apprenticeship program for trade members to pass along their skills to the next generation. Unskilled labor is plentiful and safety standards are different than those expected in the U.S. and Canada.

“One of the most surprising things to me is the leadership structure on projects in the region,” said Hickey. “In Jordan, engineers are primarily the project leaders. While in Canada and the U.S., it is the superintendent who is the primary contact and leads the on-site construction of the project. Although engineers have the education, they may lack the skill-set to perform trade work, such as concrete finishing.”

Hickey further notes that most of the engineers are educated in the U.S. and Canada, so the language barrier was not as challenging as they had anticipated. Most laborers also spoke English very well.

Although Jordan is one of the most progressive countries in the region, some cultural changes exist. The technology infrastructure is not as robust as in the U.S. and Canada, so Internet connections were intermittent at times. Unlike in some Western nations, armed soldiers are everywhere, which can be uncommon at first glance, but quickly becomes commonplace and reassuring. Friday and Saturday are the weekend and Sunday is the start of the work week.

“We had an extremely positive experience working in Amman,” said Hickey. “The military officials see the viability of Tilt-Up and are interested in pursuing other projects using the method.” The project generated such tremendous feedback that SiteCast has received interest from other Middle Eastern countries about constructing Tilt-Up projects in their nations.

“The benefits of Tilt-Up – speed, durability, low maintenance, security – are attractive to many entities, especially in countries dominated with concrete construction such as Jordan,” said Hickey. “We were able to show them a new construction method that could save them money when compared to traditional masonry.”

As SiteCast continues to build its presence in the Middle East, they are actively canvassing with employment opportunities, from superintendents to project managers. Please visit their website at

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TILT-UP TODAY, a publication of the Tilt-Up Concrete Association, is THE source for Tilt-Up industry news, market intelligence, business strategies, technical solutions, product information, and other resources for professionals in the Tilt-Up industry. A subscription to TILT-UP TODAY is included in a TCA membership. Subscriptions for potential TCA members are also available. If you would like to receive a complimentary subscription to the publication, please contact the TCA.